Today on Autistic Pride Day, I'm thinking about how convention has taught us what we must be proud of, and what we must be ashamed of. Shame can be good when we experience it due to knowing that we made bad choices or hurt someone based on what our own conscience tells us. Unfortunately too much shame is due to a group conscience or societal conscience that is actually proud of making bad choices, which are imposed on individuals in the name of progress. Then our choices seem all mixed up because what society praises as progress is contrary to the heartfelt decisions we make that honor ourselves and each other just for being who we are.
The way that mainstream society describes autism teaches people to demand progress in areas that often don't really matter, and they often demand it within a too short of a time frame that ultimately works against rather than in favor of progress. People learn and feel good about themselves when they can see that they are able to influence their environment. Human influence comes when people honor who you are, and what you think. Skillful influence is prone to deceit and is tricky and fleeting at best.
When people are unafraid of punishment due to their lack of accepted skills, they are free to experience their environment and that will introduce them to a seemingly limitless understanding which will lead to skills they would never otherwise acquire.
Rather than temporary setbacks and the need for different types of accommodations with different expectations, Western medicine creates models of illness and disability, which work together with sociological hierarchies to determine a person's worth by how well they fit the current commercial framing of success.
People who are unwilling to accept what autistics can teach them about autism, people who will chase after the next fad/quack cure for autism, and people who concern themselves with searching for the external force that has supposedly robbed their family of competent living will not have the time or the insight to experience the joy of autistic pride, which comes from having autistic people in their lives.
Praising certain fashionable skills does separate people according to value. There is no way to claim that what society labels a person according to their level of functioning doesn't also determine what society sees as their worth.
We don't need to save autistics because they may have or acquire skills that society will accept as valuable. We don't need to hire someone or allow public officials to mold the behavior of autistics when they aren't even inspired to understand them.
When autistic people start saying what we really think rather than what we are taught we should and others start listening to us because we have something valuable to say rather than out of pitiful obligation (or rather than not listening out of contempt for who we are), it gives everyone an opportunity to learn. Doing that is something everyone can be proud of.